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European Court of Justice
N Jääskinen, Registrar: M Ferreira, Principal Administrator
22 October 2013
The Court of Justice of the European Union made a preliminary ruling on the compatibility of Dutch legislation prohibiting private investors from holding shares in Dutch energy distribution companies and prohibiting ownership or control links between distribution companies and companies concerned with generation or production of gas or electricity.
 The request for a preliminary ruling concerns the interpretation of Article 63 TFEU and Article 345 TFEU.
 This request has been made in proceedings between the Staat der Nederlanden and Essent NV, Essent Nederland BV, Eneco Holding NV and Delta NV, companies which are active, in particular, in the generation/production, supply and trade of electricity and gas in the Netherlands (together ‘Essent and Others'), concerning the compatibility with European Union law of national legislation which prohibits, first, the sale to private investors of shares held in the electricity and gas distribution system operators active in the Netherlands (‘the prohibition of privatisation'), secondly, any ownership or control links between, on the one hand, companies which are members of the same group as an operator of such distribution systems and, on the other, companies which are members of the same group as an undertaking which generates/produces, supplies or trades in electricity or gas in the Netherlands (‘the group prohibition') and, thirdly, engagement by such an operator and by the group of which it is a member in transactions or activities which may adversely affect the operation of the system concerned (‘the prohibition of activity which may adversely affect the system operation').